The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Richie Ramone The Rockpit 2013 Interviews







Mark: Hi, Richie, thanks for taking the time to talk to The Rockpit, I guess I’ve caught you at the end of your day of interviews?


Richie: Yeah, you are the last one, number 12 or something!


Mark: You are coming over for the Stone Music Festival, it’s a great line-up over the two days, but the Saturday you play on has an amazing line-up, how did you get involved?


Richie: One of the producers heard my new album and said he wanted to book me on to the show. When I found out there was Van Halen and all that, I was like, Yeah, I’m coming!


Mark: I bet that’s the first time you’ve played on the same bill as Van Halen!


Richie: Yes! I never had the chance before.


Mark: I haven’t had chance to listen to your new album yet, but I understand it’s called “Entitled”.


Richie: It should be out shortly, it’s not really out before I get there, which I’m not real happy about.


Mark: Can you tell us a little bit about the album?


Richie: Let’s see, it’s got Tommy Bolan, who was a metal guitar player; he was in Warlock with Doro Pesch, in the late 80’s. So, my vision on this record was to get a shredder with a pop guitarist and combine that sound, and I really got what I wanted, too, it’s really cool! There’s eight songs on there, and a couple that I wrote for The Ramones, that I re-recorded, like (Somebody put Something in my) ‘Drink’, ‘Human Kind’ and ‘Smash You’ so, that’s basically the record, and Ben, who’s my rhythm guitar player, live, he plays drums too, so he jumps on drums and I move out front a few times throughout the show, so it works out really well. We did a really good tour in South America, the atmosphere was really great.


Mark: That’s great to hear that you have someone like Tommy on board who I can even remember from his ‘Armed Forces’ band. I always thought you brought a heavier sound to The Ramones, anyway.


Richie: People can understand you can pick The Rolling Stones, and change Charlie Watts; it will change the whole sound of the band, if you put a different drummer in there! He has a very laid back beat, I’m a hard hitter, but I play mine on the beat,  I don’t play behind it, I’m not that kind of drummer, but, I think it the sound because the drumming changed, you know. I played at the time when speed metal was coming back, in the mid-eighties.






Mark: What was the New York underground scene like back in the eighties? We always hear so much about the seventies, and bands that came out then but the eighties don’t get the accolades, even though they threw up some great bands.
Richie: The Cro-Mags and the real speed metal stuff was coming out in New York City, Motorhead was always around so I’d hang with them, That’s why you hear those half-time fast ones like ‘I’m Not Jesus’ and songs like that, which Dee Dee liked, we were evolving and it wasn’t so much of that surf-sounding kind of music from the earlier records.


Mark: It’s quite interesting reading about you as well; I’m always intrigued by people’s backgrounds when they get in to music. As a classically trained musician, what actually drew you to the drums in the first place?


Richie: Oh, gosh!! I always tell the story of when I was in Kindergarten, and they had this dirty box in the corner of the room, which had toys in it that you blow in to and stuff, and I would never touch any of those, I would always get the blocks, and then my parents, I come from a family of five children, they always made us an instrument, that was like a hobby back then. My sister played the piano, and my brother plays the sax, and I got the drums. When I was in high school, I was in all the big bands, and I played in orchestras and all that kind of stuff, and then I ended up playing Punk Rock! I didn’t need all that musical background, but, let me tell you, you have all that in the back of your head, you take all of that knowledge you have floating in there, and it helps you become a better musician. I think you should listen to everything, play everything, and then you can put it out, in your rock and roll which ever music you are playing at that time, this adds to your inner self. Some drummers just play with their arms, and they’re like heavy hitters, but you should be able to play drums, and have someone sit and hear you play like a beat, it should be musical, people don’t think that, but drums are musical. You should listen to how it flows, and it should come from the heart, you can’t get it out of a book! It has to come from within, so all that diverse background, and my brother was five years older, and he had a band, and I was always jamming with him, so I was five years ahead of my time. You learn a lot, and you learn from playing live and listening to other musicians.


Mark; It’s interesting to hear you say that, because I did listen to your” Suite for Drums and Orchestra” a couple of days ago, and I thought, wow, this is really interesting stuff!


Richie: What’s cool is I had a piano player and I arranged a story, I never liked the first show, the orchestra thing, because when you start a piece, you’re not supposed to make any noise, and my piece was eighteen minutes long and they wheel the drums out and the audience (makes gasping sound) as they never really saw that too often (laughs). So I was like playing and not getting any feedback, and as soon as the end hit, those people jumped up like popcorn, it was really amazing the standing ovations I got from that, I felt like Gene Krupa or Buddy Rich, who I love. I definitely want to do more of that, as there’s nothing like driving a ninety piece orchestra. Of course you really get to use your technical skills a little more, playing different pop signatures and stuff like that, as opposed to just laying it down, you know.


Mark: I loved the sound of the James Bond idea that you had as well.


Richie: Yeah, I’d love to do a James Bond too, that’s why I have another piece, and I might add a Ramones classic in there, something like that, a whole second half to the night, but that’s in the future. Right now I just want to bang it out and blow the roof off the stadium, if there is one!


Mark; I think they’ve got one of those retractable roofs, so you can ask them to put it on just so you can blow it off!! What will you be playing for us; will it be a mixture of Ramones classics and stuff off the new album?


Richie: Yeah, at the ANZ stadium, I only get to play for half an hour, so I’m not going to get much in. I’ll play some songs off the new record, as well as two classic Ramones songs, and stuff like that. Then I have a surprise at the end, I’m doing a cover song by one of your old bands, but I’m not going to tell anybody, it’s like guess this song!! I’m excited about it, we’ve been rehearsing it now for a while, and it’s come out really cool, so it’ll be really good to end the show with it, a prominent band that came from Australia!


Mark: Let’s hope it’s AC/DC! The Ramones were famous for the rocky relationships within the band, but somehow, whilst you were there, you seemed to hold it all together.


Richie: Yeah there was none of that really Dee Dee wasn’t doing drugs at that time, I don’t know, I guess it was just new blood. I kind of got along with everybody for the most part, I don’t know.


Mark: Was that something just about you, do you think? Or was it the circumstances of the time that you were there?


Richie: It was just the time it was, I think the band were struggling a bit, they were making the “Pleasant Dreams” album, they needed to get back to their roots a bit more, and I made it happen for the most part. I was there, and most of the band members wanted to talk to somebody new, and so it worked out really well. There wasn’t much nonsense in those five years!


Mark: Some great albums too, while you were there. I got to speak to some interesting people recently, Bob Mould, in a recent interview said, Husker Du, wouldn’t have existed without The Ramones, and Dave Grohl, said Nirvana wouldn’t have existed without Husker Du, and there are hundreds of other examples, why do you think The Ramones were so influential?


Richie: God, they influenced everybody, because of the time, it was ’75, and there was disco going on, and they made it like, hey, they can play that instrument, so can I, they played it with their three chords, so any kid could pick up a guitar and copy it because it was simple music. And that’s how so many bands got started.


Mark; I think it’s timeless as well, I think The Ramones are one of those bands you can listen to today, and it still sounds good.


Richie: Yeah, I think a lot of the punk rock stuff is kind of dated now. But, yeah, they are timeless and will go forever.


Mark: I remember the first time I saw you guys on stage, and you were there, it was 1985, and you played a show called The Longest Day, which U2 headlined.


Richie: Yeah, I remember it; there were a quarter of a million people there! The main thing I remember is that we were on at 11am. And I always remember that before we went on, Larry, the drummer from U2, came to my trailer, and requested to say hello to me, because he’s a big fan of mine! If you listen to him play, he plays kind of like the way I do. I’ll always remember that, he’s from a big band, and he actually came early that day to watch me, which is cool!


Mark: It was a great day, and I think a concert that sort of changed my life. I remember the big beer containers being thrown on stage! It was a great introduction to music and I’m glad I get to see you again at The Stone Music festival.


Richie: Yeah, it’ll be cool; I’m just glad all the spitting has passed now!! That was rough for a couple of years, you know!! Those kids would drink a lot of alcohol and “gob” about eighty feet!!! But, I think they don’t do that anymore!


Mark: It’s weird how things change over the years! But, I think they’ve got a fair sized pit, so they’d have to be pretty good to spit on you from that distance!! Just a couple of final questions for you. If you could have been a fly on the wall for the creation of any classic album, what would it have been for you and why?


Richie: Gosh, I don’t know! Possibly The Bee Gees, “Saturday Night Fever”, that was a great album. It’s a weird question, maybe The Beatles, “The White Album”. Or the first Ramones record!


Mark: Finally, what is the meaning of life?


Richie: I’m trying to have a good time now, I don’t want to be stressed, I want to work with people I like working with, enjoy food and good company, and have good friends. Quality friends, that’s what it’s all about. Having good friends is the most important thing, it’s a tough business, people think it’s all parties and drinking, but it’s a tough, tough business!


Mark: Thank you for talking to us, it’s been a pleasure, and we’ll see you later on in the month. Take care.


Richie: Thanks, Mark.



By Mark Diggins April 2013




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